Integrating Millennials into the Workplace: More Takeaways from SHRM

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Millennials in the workplace were a hot seminar topic at the Annual Conference of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) on June 21, as evidenced by a maxed-out conference hall that seats nearly 1,500 people, plus two overflow rooms participating remotely.

The Tidal Wave of Millennials Is Here. Effective Leadership for Managing Multiple Generations

Scott Derthick, Chief People and Culture Officer, Peckham
Justin Walworth, Assistant Director of Human Resources, Peckham

Appropriately for a seminar on this topic, presenters Derthick (Baby Boomer) and Walworth (Gen X/Gen Y cusp) come from different generations and they do in fact work together, at Peckham, a non-profit that provides job training and placement for people with disabilities. During the seminar, they often acted the opposing roles of generational clichés, which helped drive home their information and created a scenario that many attendees have likely seen before.

The seminar began by explaining why integrating millennials into the workplace is seen as such a challenge. For one, they’ll soon dominate strictly through their masses. By the year 2020, 50 percent of the workforce will be comprised of millennials, so HR professionals know they need to get it figured out now. Examining how millennials view the world and what they believe provides important context on addressing the issue.

Older generations have complained that Millennials have short attention spans, but the flip side is that they parse information quickly and move on. They also have infallible radar for falseness and a knack for connecting the dots. Millennials have been characterized at times for selfishness, yet younger celebrities such as Channing Tatum, Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift give a greater percentage of their income to charity vs. older stars, according to the speakers. Millennials grew up with lots of things, but instead of being materialistic, they value flexibility vs. money.

Here are some other facts you might not know about Millennials:

Their heroes are grounded in reality; their parents, tech wizards like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, and 911 first responders. They have seen social media participate in overthrowing a government and they understand how powerful a group of people can be. They value teamwork and networking, which will help them when they’re transitioning through the seven careers they’re likely to have in their lifetimes.

By considering all the information above, Derthick and Walworth developed best practices for maximizing the value of Millennials in the workplace:

  • Face challenges head on
  • Be supportive
  • Show empathy
  • Look for ways generations can learn from each other
  • Share results
  • Be transparent
  • Be patient
  • Feedback is a gift
So really, they’re not very different from the ways everyone prefers to be treated.